Monday, July 2, 2007

An Ever-Fixed Mark

A couple weeks ago, one of my good friends was in a fight with one of her friends. It happened at a bar, so it was unfortunately in public. I tried to ignore the argument and let them settle things while talking to another friend, who happens to be a guy. He was entranced by the fight, and I literally had to tear his eyes and attention away from the two girls.

We started talking about what was happening. I tried to explain what they were arguing about. I also told him that my friends and I are not those "catty girls" who revel in loud, public fights, or fights at all. I'm pretty laidback and prefer to surround myself with similar people. I explained that while one of the girls was always trying to stir up drama, the other, the one I'm close with, is not at all like that.

He snickered and said that girls fight a lot. I said maybe that's true, but all girls are not drama queens. The girls I'm friends with don't fight with their friends. He said that he knew a lot of girls that were like us and aren't so argumentative ...but...there are a lot of girls who are. He said girls are more competitive with each other than guys are.

Then he told an awful joke. He prefaced it, warning me it was bad and not a representation of his true sentiments. But nevertheless, he told it. He said, "Girls don't have friends. They have temporary alliances."

Throughout the history of the women's rights movement, women have been women's own worst enemy. Suffrage wouldn't have taken as long if there weren't so many women opposed to it who were just as aggressive in their protests and lobbying against it. Same thing with the ERA. I think that when you have one group with less power, there's a lot of infighting within that group grasping for the little power they can have.

The past year, I've had troubles with friends. It all took me by surprise. The last time I fought with a friend, seriously fought, I was in high school. In middle school, I was always the girl that the clique picked on or singled out, and it was a horrible feeling. I just wanted friends to have fun with, and I didn't understand all the meanness.

I find myself now just as confused. Though also wondering what could be wrong with me that I've had these problems. I am dumbfounded at the behavior I've encountered. I can't believe people act this way, much less to people they called friends, and I'm extremely surprised that the behaviors are coming from the people they're coming from. That makes me even more convinced that there must be something wrong with me, I must be doing something bad or awful, I must be causing this.

But the more I go over and over situations, I can't find major mistakes that I made. And certainly nothing unforgivable. So what is it then? This girl/girl competition? No. That I know is not it. Because I have wonderful, rich, deep friendships with other women where such competition does not exist.

Looking back at the past two years, I feel that I've changed and developed a lot. I'm deeper than I was before. And my outlines are a little darker. Maybe as we get older, we become more complicated, more principled, and it becomes more difficult to maintain friendships. Not every relationship can withstand the test of fire, after all, or the test of anything sometimes. But oh, the ones that can are invincible, indestructible. I may have lost friends, but I've also gained friends.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

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